July 14, 1948
Poor Jim Hegan had the game’s biggest hit, driving home All-Star Joe Gordon in the eleventh inning during Wednesday’s exhibition against Brooklyn, but all anyone wanted to talk about was Satchel Paige.
The Indians won 4-3 in walk-off style in the second half of a home-and-home exhibition series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, but the former Negro League star Paige stole the show. Ole Satchelfoot, the ageless wonder and newest Indians reliever, struck out the side in the top of the seventh frame using only 12 pitches. Paige walked off the field to a roaring standing ovation from the 65,922 fans at the Stadium. To add to his big day, Paige also worked a scoreless eighth inning and got a base hit in his only at bat.
Paige was working in relief of Tribe starter Ed Klieman, who was making his first start in two years. Klieman was opposed by Dodgers pitcher Erv Palica. Both pitchers were good, with Palica allowing a run in the fourth and then Klieman also doing so in the fifth. The Indians run came courtesy of a Lou Boudreau RBI single and the Dodgers did so with a Palica RBI double that brought home rookie catcher Roy Campanella.
The Indians took a two-run lead in the bottom half of the fifth when Allie Clark dropped a double down the right field line and was brought home on a single by Eddie Robinson. Johnny Berardino pinch ran for the slow-footed first baseman and then came around to score on a double by Dale Mitchell that made the score 3-1.
The Bums came right back, however, when Don Black relieved Klieman in the sixth. The Dodgers collected three hits off of Black in the inning and were aided by a crucial Gordon error as well. With the score tied at 3-3, Paige then took over, making the Brooklyn batters look silly with his blazing fastball and his legendary “hesitation pitch.”
The hesitation pitch is something that Paige developed five seasons ago in the Negro Leagues, taking a pause in the middle of his windup – right before his plant foot hits the ground.
After Paige worked his scoreless two frames and rookie Gene Bearden fired three scoreless innings, the stage was set for Hegan’s heroics in the eleventh. With Gordon on second base, Hegan lined a single right back up the middle and into center field to give the Indians their 4-3 victory and a split in the exhibition series. All proceeds of the game were donated to the Cleveland Baseball Federation.
The Indians will get back to work in games that count as they head to Shibe Park in Philadelphia to face the Athletics for a Thursday doubleheader to start a pivotal four-game series and the second half of the season. The Athletics currently find themselves in second place, just one-half game behind the front-running Tribe. The Indians will send Steve Gromek (2-1, 3.63) to the mound in game one and Bob Lemon (13-7, 2.39) to the hill in game two. The Athletics will counter with Phil Marchildon (6-6, 4.82) in game one and Dick Fowler (8-1, 3.51) in the second contest.
Photo: Sporting News archive